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Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
Clematis integrifolia is no longer only blue. This selection produces progeny with pink, white, and lavender blooms from midspring until late summer. The flowers are followed by attractive seed heads in fall. It has a compact, herbaceous form and grows to just 10 to 14 inches tall.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
A fast grower, 'Little Aurora' has cupped, puckered leaves and a metallic sheen, with soft-lavender flowers from late June into early July.
Lewisia cotyledon is an evergreen perennial of incredible beauty and well-balanced proportions. Fleshy leaves emerge in flat rosettes of spoon-shaped dark green leaves. Funnel-shaped flowers to 1 inch across are borne in compact panicles. The true species has candy-striped pink flowers. Hybrids bloom in shades from white to magenta.
Narcissus ‘Accent’ has white petals and a funnel-shaped, salmon-pink cup whose color stays true.
Iceland poppy is a short-lived perennial usually grown as a cool-weather annual, or biennial. From hairy tufts of linear blue-green foliage rise wiry stems bearing a pendant bud. The single (occasionally double) short-lived flowers unwrinkle their petals into a wide-spreading saucer shape 3 inches across.
‘Bertram Anderson’ is an older cultivar of lungwort with excellent foliage. In early spring, pink buds open to bright blue flowers, then silver-spotted leaves unfurl for a season-long show. Lungworts can have mildew problems, but ‘Bertram Anderson’ is highly resistant. When you cut off the old foliage in late winter, wear gloves; the tiny hairs all over the leaves (which keep the deer away) can irritate your skin. -Irvin Etienne, Fine Gardening #147 (October 2012), page 72
Hens & chicks are always a welcome sight, and this exciting 'Black' variety is a newer take on the old favorite.
The 12-inch-tall Tulipa 'Calypso' (1992) is known for being reliably perennial. It has decorative stippled leaves and large orange-red flowers rimmed with primrose and a black base.
Tulipa 'Red Riding Hood' (introduced in 1953) is a true beauty, with flowers that are scarlet red inside, carmine outside, and black at the base. They float above richly striped foliage on 10- to 12-inch tall stems.
Stylish Shady Containers
Low light doesn't have to cramp your creativity or limit your plant choices
by Karen Chapman
Container Plantings in the Shade Yield a Spectacular Garden
You don't need a lot of sun or even access to the soil to have a lovely garden
by Gary Keim
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Potting Soil Recipes
Cook up your own container mix that is suited to your plants
by Daryl Beyers
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